How To Successfully Manage And Engage Your Virtual Team
- In the absence of well-established processes around setting goals and tracking performance, managers fall back on biases and preconceptions around hours spent at the office, and other such anachronistic mental models
- On the other side of the equation, for the virtual worker trying to gain visibility in the absence of objective productivity metrics, there is undue pressure to justify working virtually by trying to focus more on time spent at work.
How then, do we make virtual work, work?As it happens, the most effective way to manage employees in a way that is agnostic to the location is to follow a set of well-defined guidelines around goal setting, performance tracking, and transparent communication:
- Virtual teams and their managers benefit from clear objective setting, along with key result definitions, that are mutually agreed-upon. This leads to a focus on actual productivity towards the achievement of goals by the employee, instead of a counter-productive fixation on the appearance of work. For the manager, instead of relying on subjective assessments, she gets to focus on tracking objective (or near-objective) metrics of progress.
- As the saying goes, out of sight is out of mind, and in the context of a manager and virtual reportee, this is especially relevant. A framework for ongoing structured conversation is a must, for multiple reasons. They can be to update the employee on the company or team-wide strategic objectives, and changes therein, and how they relate to the individuals’ goals. Alternatively, they can also be an opportunity for an employee to seek clarifications and ask questions around the broader context around specific projects they are working on. At other times, a brief conversation to check how a virtual assistants are doing and if they need any support from the organization to best fulfill their responsibilities might prove helpful.
- All employees, and ones located virtually more-so need a regular cadence for re-calibration of objectives, checking in on progress towards key results, and objective feedback for improvement. This ensures that irrespective of location, an employee’s goals are always mapped closely to the teams’ and are being tracked in a way that is transparent to everyone. For the employee, being part of a team-wide process that is data-dependent and objective without any bias towards where one is located, makes it easier to focus on doing one’s best work as part of the team.